Can undocumented workers receive workers’ compensation?

If you are an undocumented worker who has been injured on the job, you may have mounting medical bills and other expenses to pay. You may also be worried about how you will pay your expenses when you are away from work.

While many states do not allow undocumented workers to receive workers’ compensation benefits, others do. Fortunately for undocumented workers in our area, New York law does allow undocumented aliens who are injured at work to apply for workers’ compensation benefits.

The reason for the difference in state laws has to do with the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). This law prohibits employers from knowingly hiring undocumented workers. It also makes it illegal for unauthorized aliens to submit false documents to get a job. Federal law does not set guidelines for states to follow in determining whether to allow undocumented workers to apply for workers’ compensation. The result is that states can decide for themselves.

These rules are complicated, however, which is why you should ask an experienced attorney to see if you can apply for workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, an experienced attorney can identify whether you may be able to hold a third party accountable for your damages. A third-party claim for damages can often result in more money damages than workers’ compensation alone.

For more information, see our article, “Undocumented Workers in New York May Apply for Workers Compensation Benefits.”